Yes, I’d Like it My Way – Hold the Dough Conditioners!

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I realize it’s been said that man cannot live by bread alone, but I’ve generally interpreted that very literally – as in men may be able to live without bread, but not the ladies. I know plenty of women who can indeed subsist quite happily on baked goods, thankyouverymuch. (And maybe coffee.)  My long-term love affair with baked goods has been deflating, however,  as I’ve discovered just what keeps many of our favorite billowy treats so predictably fluffy and chewy. 

I’ve often considered bagels from a well-known chain or a Subway sandwich the least objectionable (and easily vegan) fast food options while traveling; I mean, Subway bakes their own breads, right?  Well. Don’t be fooled by the fresh aromas and hot ovens — Subway dough is highly processed and delivered daily from a factory, each roll uniformly pre-formed and programmed to puff up perfectly and without any large holes every time. How do they do this?

The bread your sandwich is served on at Subway and most other fast-food restaurants (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Jack in the Box, to name a few) usually contains “dough conditioners,” including a chemical known as azodicarbonamide (please repeat this four times, fast), which is also used to make yoga mats and the soles of tennis shoes. Yes, that’s right – you’ve been ordering and eating gym equipment all these years.  As if this weren’t bad enough, when heated to a certain temperature, azodicarbonamide breaks down into several products, one of which is urethane, a known carcinogen. Are you lovin’ it??  Subway has recently announced that it is phasing out this particular binder, and I certainly hope they do, but really – don’t we want to be able to pronounce and recognize all of the ingredients we’re putting in our bodies? Wouldn’t you trade a seemingly-immortal, perfectly-uniform roll for a natural product? Of course. The problem is that this information is not widely known.

You may want to put down your bagel for this next negative nutritional nugget: Dunkin Donuts, Dominos Pizza, and Einstein Bros use another type of dough conditioner in their baked goods, an ingredient called L-Cysteine, which is — I can’t believe I’m typing this –usually made from duck feathers and/or hog hair.  I probably have a streak of gray in my hair, an ulcer, and three new large wrinkles in my forehead from digesting this information. For some reason I thought all humans were on the same page re: the sacredness of bread.  Sadly, my friends, this is not the case. 

Luckily, natural bakers abound.  You need look no further than the health food section of your grocery store (Ezekiel 4:9, Dave’s Killer Breads), the farmer’s market, local bakeries, or your own kitchen for baked goods full of healthy, whole ingredients you can pronounce and feel good about eating.  I will be the first to admit I have not baked my own bread for years, but I’m about to start grinding my own flippin’ grains!  I’ll post some bread recipes soon. 🙂

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